At halftime of last night's Howard County girls basketball championship game against visiting River Hill, Atholton coach Maureen Shacreaw challenged her team with a simple question: Who wants this win?
At different times throughout the second half, every one of her Raiders came back with a positive response.
With junior Brittany Coughlan (15 points) giving her answer from the outside, fellow junior Taylor Chapman (14 points) providing the inside punch and senior Julie Taylor (12 points) filling in the rest of the gaps, the No. 10 Raiders came away with a 55-43 win.
Atholton (20-3) won its third county championship and first since 1982, in the process ending a run of four straight titles for the No. 13 Hawks (16-6).
"They all stepped up - they're all averaging equal and that's where we've been decent. And it was a team win - they won as a team. To have a great season and not get this, we would have been shortchanged. I'm just very proud," said Shacreaw, who was drenched with water as she entered the team's locker room after the win.
Taking a 26-23 lead into the second half, the Raiders extended their pressure on defense and attacked the basket on offense to build a double-digit lead late in the third quarter that would not be challenged despite an impressive 28-point performance by River Hill senior Kelsey Erdman.
Atholton's Elie Snyder and Julianne Conroy each added six points in the win - both getting key baskets in the third quarter as the Raiders enjoyed a 44-33 lead in the final minute of the quarter.
"We were so determined. Ever since losing last year's county championship to them, we've been ready to come. We made our goals at the beginning of the season and that was our first one - to come to the county championship, play it at home and win," Coughlan said. "It feels awesome - it was definitely a team effort and I'm so glad we were able to pull it off because we've worked so hard for it."
The Hawks stayed close in the first half behind a strong 16 minutes from Erdman, who scored all 15 of the visitors' points in the second quarter.
"I just thought Atholton wanted it more - they just played harder," said River Hill coach Teresa Waters, whose Hawks defeated Atholton, 58-57, during the regular season. "The only person that really showed up for us was Kelsey, and Kelsey can't do it by herself. We just had people that missed assignments like crazy."